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Home   Medway   News   Article

Widow Harjit Chaggar 'thrown alive through hatch before being found dead under floorboards' of Sani Globe store in Chatham

18 March 2014
by Sian Napier

The decomposing body of a 69-year-old widow was found hidden beneath floorboards in the basement of a Chatham shop, a court has been told.

Harjit Chaggar disappeared while out shopping on September 2 and her body was found 12 days later in the Sani Globe grocery store in Luton Road.

Canterbury Crown Court heard the grandmother had been assaulted and bled to death for up to six hours in the basement store room of the shop after being thrown through a hatch while still alive.

Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop in Chatham

Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop in Chatham

Bobbie Cheema QC, prosecuting, said: "Her killers showed her no mercy and she died there alone."

Abdul Hannan, Mohammad Islam and Murshed Miah all deny murdering Mrs Chaggar on September 2.

They, along with Rasad Miah, also deny preventing the lawful burial or cremation of Mrs Chaggar.

Ms Cheema told the jury that none of the accused, who all worked in the store, had offered any explanation of how Mrs Chaggar died or how her body came to be under the floorboards.

A cordon outside Sani Globe food store in Luton Road

A cordon outside Sani Globe food store in Luton Road

A handbag belonging to the retired machinist, of Hillside Road, Chatham, was missing along with some jewellery.

Ms Cheema said Mrs Chaggar had visited the shop on the afternoon of September 2 and was caught on CCTV.

"She must have been held there against her will and thrown in the void under the floor. She did not fall in there by herself and did not cover herself up..." - prosecutor Bobbie Cheema

A short while later, after having left the store, she was seen entering the back of the shop after having been beckoned in by a man.

"She was rendered unable to leave and never seen again," Ms Cheema said.

"She must have been held there against her will and thrown in the void under the floor.

"She did not fall in there by herself and did not cover herself up."

The jury was told of the "devastating injuries" Mrs Chaggar had suffered before she died, including a significant injury to the left side of her head, a v-shaped cut that would have bled and was likely to have been inflicted with a weapon.

There was bruising to the front and top of her head caused by blows when she was still alive, Ms Cheema said.

Harjit Chaggar was found 12 days after going missing

Harjit Chaggar was found 12 days after going missing

But the worst was a severed spinal cord and other injuries which, a pathologist said, were usually associated with serious road traffic collisions or falls from a great height.

Ms Cheema said this could have happened when Mrs Chaggar was thrown from the hatch onto the basement floor.

"She sustained all her injuries before death and survived for up to six hours before she died," Ms Cheema told the jury.

An expert estimated she died between 3.30pm and 8.30pm on the day she went missing and died from a combination of head, chest and spinal injuries.

Police outside the shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found

Police outside the shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found

The court was also told of the huge efforts her son, his wife and their son made to try to find Mrs Chaggar, visiting the Sani Globe and other shops and of a nasty smell which became apparent in the store from September 9.

This got worse and shop staff started burning incense sticks in an attempt to disguise the smell, the court heard.

On September 13, the family filmed an appeal near the shop to try to find out what had happened to Mrs Chaggar.

Ms Cheema told the jury: "At no point did any of the defendants give any indication to the police that they knew anything about her disappearance."

Abdul Hannan, 44, of Aldon Close, Maidstone; Murshed Miah, 38, of Wheeler Street, Maidstone; and 28-year-old Mohammad Islam, of Windmill Road, Gillingham, have all denied murdering Mrs Chaggar.

Rasad Miah, 27, of Otway Street, Chatham, has denied preventing the lawful burial or cremation of a corpse.

The trial continues.

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